Sunday, November 13, 2011

SW Thailand, 29th Sep - 16th Oct 2011 (pt 1)

After a week in the bowels of Bangkok, we headed south down the length of the Thai peninsula aboard the overnight sleeper train - a much cheaper and lengthier option than flying, but also infinitely more colourful and culturally fascinating (with the added bonus of a female Watercock while the carriage idled through marshland - not quite as easy from a passenger jet).

Coppersmith Barbets

Being almost constantly on the move over preceding weeks, and with the best part of two months in South-east Asia ahead of us, we were looking at shacking up somewhere comfortable for a while and taking it relatively easy; we also wanted a place which would serve as a basecamp for excursions along the Andaman coast and also inland, and the ideal location was Krabi town.

male Crimson-backed Flowerpecker

And so the Krabi River hotel - with excellent views overlooking the river, its mangroves and countryside beyond - was our temporary home for the following two-plus weeks (not that we knew it on arrival, but our increasingly relaxed mood dictated several extensions).

female Brown-throated Sunbird

female Olive-backed Sunbird

Initially, we were beaten by the weather more often than not, with the kind of monsoon rains that redefine the word torrential; a calculated risk at this time of year in the area, and one that we took in favour of heading into the north of the country (a very, very good decision, as our intended destinations up there were about to suffer biblical flooding).

male Ruby-cheeked Sunbird

But as the days passed, the heavens gradually shut up shop and the balance swung steadily in favour of warm sunshine. Which didn't always necessarily mean more birding - truth be told, it often meant more idyllic beach-bumming and endless swims in the warm emerald ocean - but there was still plenty of action in various nearby coastal habitats.

Of those, we made regular visits into the mangroves (on foot and by boat), several long-tail trips up and down the river and along the coast, and a substitute local patch consisted of the coastal park (all of four minutes from the hotel), which turned out to be something of a migrant trap.

juvenile Tiger Shrike

So there was plenty to entertain, albeit at a somewhat more leisurely pace than usual....

(More from Krabi and the area to follow)

Pacific Swallow

Blue-tailed Bee-eater